In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

In Kenya's SORALO and Shompole Lands, Samantha du Toit Takes Us to the Great Rift Valley

Samantha du Toit (formerly Russell) was born and raised in Kenya. After completing secondary school in Nairobi she went to England to study Zoology and Psychology at Bristol University in England

Upon returning to Kenya, du Toit went straight into working in wildlife conservation with Dr. David Western, founder of the African Conservation Centre. Her first major task was to establish the baseline monitoring of the Shompole and Olkiramatian ecosystem, over eight years ago.

Today the Shompole Conservancy is a large privately operated conservation area in the south of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya. It is located between Lake Magadi to the north and Lake Natron to the south, on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. The conservancy was registered in 1979 and is owned by the Loodokolani Maasi with over 2000 registered members representing around 10,000 Loodokilani Maasai dependents.

Today, Samantha du Toit can be found at the Lale’enok Resource Centre, which she helped establish and now plays a major role in its operations. Or we might find her in the Nairobi SORALO office, helping to manage the affairs of the South Rift Association of Land Owners. This network of shared goals and objectives operates with complementary decision-making and objectives.

Kenya's US Anti-Poaching Expert Faye Cuevas Announces 'Team Lioness', 8 Young Maasai Women Rangers + Plans For Many More

Faye-Cuevas-Masaai-Women-32419-.jpg

Kenya's US Anti-Poaching Expert Faye Cuevas Announces 'Team Lioness', 8 Young Maasai Women Rangers + Plans For Many More

Team Lioness, a team of eight young Maasai women is one of Kenya’s first all-female ranger units — and the direct result of Faye’s consultations with the Masaii women leaders. Officially announced on March 6, 2019, Team Lioness joins the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) who protect wildlife across six bases and one mobile unit in OOGR through IFAW’s tenBoma, an innovative wildlife security initiative. Team Lioness is operating in this precious natural corridor created by Kenya and Tanzania under the majesty of Kilimanjaro.

“In the larger Amboseli region, out of almost 300 wildlife rangers, to my knowledge there was only one woman,” Faye explained, in introducing Team Lioness. “The need was apparent.”

 The women of team Lioness were selected based on their academic achievements and physical strength, as well as their demonstration of trustworthiness, discipline, and integrity. Typically, a Maasai girl leaves school around age 10 and have few opportunities to achieve a higher education.

“It’s very rare that Maasai women achieve a secondary education,” says Cuevas. “But all of team Lioness have the equivalent of a US high school education, and none of them have had a paying job before this. It’s breaking barriers.”

“As the first women joining the OCWR Rangers, each of the team Lioness recruits brings a new perspective and a different experience with wildlife than her male counterparts,” Faye continues. “They are important voices in protecting wildlife and reconnecting communities to the benefits of sharing land with the magnificent big cats and other wildlife that call OOGR home.”